07 August 2009

Whither Evangelicalism?

by Phil Johnson



vangelicalism regularly comes under attack from all sides, and let's face it: a lot of the criticism leveled against evangelicals is well deserved. Although I hold firmly to historic evangelical doctrine, I thoroughly despise what the contemporary evangelical movement has become.

That's an important distinction. Evangelical doctrine and the evangelical movement are not the same thing. Nowadays they often look like polar opposites. The movement we usually label "evangelical" abandoned its own doctrinal foundation long ago. The average evangelical today couldn't even tell you what the original doctrinal distinctives of classic evangelicalism were.

In fact, post-modern evangelicals don't really have any clear doctrinal identity. No less than Christianity Today has suggested that diversity is what now defines the movement. That's close, but I'd be inclined to say that the singular characteristic that stands out most among contemporary evangelicals is their distaste for drawing any clear lines between truth and error. They don't like to handle doctrine in a polemical fashion. They especially don't want to be thought "negative" when it comes to declaring their doctrinal convictions. They don't want anyone to think they are "against" what someone else teaches. (What a gauche, fundamentalist attitude that would be!) Almost everything is negotiable within the broad evangelical movement of today.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones saw this trend coming and warned against it. In 1971, during a visit to Austria, he gave a series of lectures that were compiled and published as a booklet, "What Is an Evangelical?" If you haven't read it, you should. Among other things, he wrote,
One of the first signs that a man is ceasing to be truly evangelical is that he ceases to be concerned about negatives, and keeps saying, We must always be positive. I will give you a striking example of this in a man whose name is familiar to most of you, and some of whose books you have read. This is what he has written recently: 'Whether a person is an evangelical is to be settled by reference to how he stands with respect to six points', which he then enumerates. His definition is by reference only to what a person is for rather than to what he is against. He goes on: 'What a man is, or is not, against may show him to be a muddled or negligent or inconsistent evangelical, but you may not deny his right to call himself an evangelical while he maintains these principles as the basis of his Christian position.'

Now that is the kind of statement which I would strongly contend against. I believe it is quite wrong. The argument which says that you must always be positive, that you must not define the man in terms of what he is against, as well as what he is for, misses the subtlety of the danger.

Lloyd Jones warned that doctrinal indifferentism was beginning to drive the evangelical agenda, and he knew that would spell the ultimate demise of the evangelical movement as a truly evangelical entity.

He was right. In many ways and in several contexts, he predicted with spot-on accuracy what was coming. Check his books Preaching and Preachers or Puritanism—or almost anything Lloyd-jones wrote. He warned that neo-evangelical compromise would lead to neo-orthodox doctrines. (That's what the Emerging Church movement signifies, by the way—the triumph of neo-orthodoxy in the evangelical movement.) He predicted the demise of preaching in evangelical circles. He saw forty years ago that doctrinal indifferentism was eating away the foundations of evangelical conviction, and he tried to sound a warning. He was absolutely right.

The evangelical movement that our grandparents and great-grandparents knew is dead. Evangelical principles live on here and there, but the label has been commandeered by people who have no right to it. It has been bartered away by those who promised to be the movement's guardians and mouthpieces—Christianity Today and the National Association of evangelicals being among the chief culprits. But rank-and-file evangelicals are to blame as well, because they were content to abandon their own heritage and run after cheap amusements. The average American today thinks evangelicalism is a political position or a religious ghetto rather than a set of biblical beliefs.

I frankly don't care if neo-evangelicalism dies as a movement. Frankly, I hope it does—the sooner, the better.

Meanwhile, we need to remember that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Public relations, fad-chasing, and the combined clout of a large politically-driven movement add nothing to the saving power of the gospel; rather, they deflect it.

Church history teaches us another important lesson: The gospel has only rarely made great gains on the back of massive, popular movements. It's the quiet, sometimes unrecognized and unsung labors of faithful individuals that often result in the most profound, long-term impact for the kingdom of God.

Furthermore, the truth will eventually defeat every error and outlast every fad. We ought to pursue the truth and distrust the fads, not vice versa.

Phil's signature

53 comments:

Luke said...

Your right, it's important to distinguish between what Evangelicalism is historically, then and now, as opposed to what Evangelicalism should be, doctrinally.

philness said...

Luke,

At first glance that sounds nice but precisely subtly wrong at second glance.

Are you saying doctrine should not be a distinguishing role in Evangelicalism?

Stan McCullars said...

I'd be inclined to say that the singular characteristic that stands out most among contemporary evangelicals is their distaste for drawing any clear lines between truth and error.

Precisely! (no pun intended)

Vita Luna Records said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael G. Helders said...

I would like to share this on my blogg (http://jdfk-kefas.blogspot.com ). Is that possible? - If so please email me: kefasmusic(at)gmail.com

God bless you and your ministry!

Kim said...

I'm currently in the middle of Iain Murray's second volume of his bio on Lloyd-Jones. I'm just getting into the 50s and 60s and one of the first occasions when Lloyd-Jones was publicly criticized for his emphasis on doctrine over experience. It all sounds so deja vu.

Frank Turk said...

I think you left three major contributors to this problem off your list, Phil:

1. The local church. If pastors of local churches measured their success by faithfulness and not by the size of the crowd, they wouldn't be sucked into this sort of thing -- and ironically, they'd probably have a more stable church.

2. ECPA. For an organization that makes a great deal of money as the gatekeepers of what gets published, their doctrinal statement is shoddy and unenforced. They are a group who, in the final account, will have a lot of hay, stubble and straw to sweat -- if they are lucky. Their lack of convictions as a group would make the Laodacians look down right serious and thoughtful.

3. CBA (or whatever they call themselves now). The few among them who care about doctrine are generally concerned about the doctrine of the rapture or the doctrine of the ecstatic gifting of the Holy Spirit more than the doctrine of the Cross, and their approach to supplying books to 'christians' is subverted by their hollow definition of what a 'christian' is. Because they also don't do a good job of standing at the retail gate, they wind up selling more plastic junk and T-shirts than they do real spiritual equipment.

It's a massive shame.

donsands said...

Thanks for the frankness in this well written post. It's disheartening, and yet encouraging.

Perhaps within our life span we shall see a great awakening. From small sincere groups of God's people loving the Scriptures, and worshipping the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and praying without ceasing God does great things, as He did through the Moravians.

Johnny Dialectic said...

You and iMonk agree on this, as you noted a few months ago.

"Furthermore, the truth will eventually defeat every error and outlast every fad."

When Christ returns, yes. In this age, I think not. We fight for truth to the end, that some may be saved. But the biblical picture of the last days is not a happy one vis-a-vis the triumph of truth.

Penn Tomassetti said...

I believe the problem with doctrinal impreciseness is the fact that many 'evangelical' organizations and leaders do not fully believe what the Bible says.

The texts of Scripture have been used out of context and explained away in so many different ways, that many people do not even take them seriously (Biblical warnings for example, or unpopular teachings).

So I have often been praying for a revival of the Bible, or a revival of sound, faithful and accurate Biblical teaching. I pray this for my pastor often as well, and have seen great growth in this area, with lots more to go by God's grace.

God bless all of you who do faithfully teach the Bible!

Patrick Eaks said...

"It's the quiet, sometimes unrecognized and unsung labors of faithful individuals that often result in the most profound, long-term impact for the kingdom of God."

The question I have to this above statement: Are we content with being unrecognized and unsung laborers? Jesus words come to mind, Lu 17:10 - So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

As Phil stated the truth will continue on, and it is our job to proclaim the truth, it is the Holy Spirit's job to change people's hearts.

Phil as always, I am blessed by this post. Thanks for your labor in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Great post!!

Lloyd-Jones: "One of the first signs that a man is ceasing to be truly evangelical is that he ceases to be concerned about negatives, and keeps saying, We must always be positive."

Building upon this statement, I've tended to have a deep appreciation for substantive confessions and creeds. Examples would be the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, the Together for the Gospel Affirmation and Denials Statement, and the Danvers Statement.

I like churches that wrestle with writing a careful Statement of Faith and are diligent in upholding and teaching the Scripture that is the foundation for their Statement of Faith. And I like churches that say membership is important.

And FWIW, although there were fine aspects to it, I did not like the Evangelical Manifesto that was publicized and pushed last year by Alistair McGrath and others.

witness said...

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.” ~Amos 8:11,12


How sad that there is little or no bread to be found in a bakery.

Brian Auten said...

Phil,

If you are defining theological indifference as an "it's all good; let's agree to disagree" approach towards 1st order issues (divinity of Christ, Trinity, bodily resurrection, Christ's substitutionary death), I'm in complete agreement with your critique.

Unfortunately, what I typically see these days from our theological camp of "conservative evangelicalism" is a "round up the usual theologically-moderate suspects" approach over what are distinctly 2nd order issues (role of church membership, "proper" ecclesiology, complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, "appropriate" ways of thinking about the first chapters of Genesis, "correct" ways of doing evangelism).

If you're going to use the charge of theological indifference to highlight American evangelicalism turning its back on historical tenets of the faith, fine. But if the charge is meant for orthodox-but-moderate believers who aren't convinced that Calvinism always equals the gospel or that the conservative evangelical movement has a lock on the way of "doing church," I'm much less comfortable. You can't toss around the "indifferent" label simply because someone sees (and accepts) logical and historically biblical reasons for why different groups handle 2nd order questions in different ways.

Best,

Brian Auten
Boar's Head Tavern

Frank Turk said...

Johnny D --

I find your pessimism about the Gospel and its power to save ... disturbing ...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Unfortunately, what I typically see these days from our theological camp of "conservative evangelicalism" is a "round up the usual theologically-moderate suspects" approach over what are distinctly 2nd order issues (role of church membership, "proper" ecclesiology, complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, "appropriate" ways of thinking about the first chapters of Genesis, "correct" ways of doing evangelism)."

Brian Auten of Boars Head Tavern, I don't know if you wrote your comment in response to mine or if you wrote it while I was writing mine, but I'd like you to reflect and consider the possibility that what you consider 2nd-order doctrines are organically linked to 1st-order doctrines and thus not really separable or severable without there being negative, eventual consequences.

Pax.

Scott Shaffer said...

I guess this means Johnny D isn't postmil.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Frank, I'm a little mystified at your comment. I expressed the precise opposite of what you ascribe to me. I wrote "that some may be saved" by fighting for the truth. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:22-23, BTW.

I find it disturbing, and more than a little odd, that you would make such a statement about me after I've been around here so long, fighting for the gospel right alongside you guys. What up?

Chad V. said...

Ways of thinking about the first chapters of Genesis is a second order issue? YIKES!!!!

Mike Riccardi said...

...what you consider 2nd-order doctrines are organically linked to 1st-order doctrines and thus not really separable or severable without there being negative, eventual consequences.

Bingo. This is where the issue is.

What I'd like to see is a post (or two, or ten) on (1) what "First Order," "Second Order," etc. means; (2) what doctrines are first- and second- and third-order; and (3) Biblical defenses for those doctrines being placed in whichever "order" they're placed.

We all agree with Mohler's "Triage" article. The problem is we're having trouble telling the difference between a gunshot wound and a paper cut.

Luke said...

philness,

Thanks.

As evangelicals we can't escape history but we can strive for what we should be doctrinally.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny D --

you said this:

[QUOTE]
In this age, I think not. We fight for truth to the end, that some may be saved. But the biblical picture of the last days is not a happy one vis-a-vis the triumph of truth.
[/QUOTE]

I disagree. "many" will be saved, and "many" will not. Interpreting that as "few" will be saved and "most" will not (which is, I think, the interpretation of the Bible you are trying to get to here) is, in the best case, speculative.

If I'm going to speculate about Christ and His intention to save, I'm giving Him the benefit of the doubt and not doubting His benefits.

This is what I find disturbing. Not completely unorthodox, mind you, but disturbing.

Frank Turk said...

Brian Auten --

First of all, sorry to delete and repost -- too many typos to bear in the original.

Before you go there, name three people whom we would all know or have a reasonable means of knowing about which fall into your category distinction.

I say "name three" because we might find the distribution of these moderates informative in making sure we don't misrepresent your point or our own criticique (the pro and the con) of your point.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Well, Frank, I was just using the same language Paul does. Of course, no one can quantify future outcomes, and I wasn't presuming to. Using "few" or "many" is indeed speculative. We would have to ask, in relation to what? Etc. The real issue is the "triumph of truth" that Phil spoke about. Doesn't the Bible present a rather bleak picture of this in the last days? E.g, 2 Tim & 4. "They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths..."

It was then your choice of the word "pessimism" about the power of the gospel "TO SAVE" [your words] that threw me, since that is the polar opposite of my view.

Happy to clarify.

donsands said...

"E.g, 2 Tim & 4. "They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths..."" JD

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Tim 4:5


"....while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed," 2 Tim 3:13-14

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth." 2 Tim 3:1-7

Seems to me, the last days were Paul's days, and Luther's days, and Our days as well.

I suppose the Gospel could be more hindered in our day, but I'm looking for a Great Awakening.

There are millions coming to Christ in China, and hundreds of thousands of souls are coming to Christ in Iran.

I pray God's great mercy will sweep across America like never before. Amen.

stratagem said...

Some of my "litmus tests" to determine on the first visit if its a 'Evangelical Movement' church:

1) They are involved to a significant degree with Habitat for Humanity, or think its important that they serve Fair Trade coffee.

2) A large number of people are reading The Shack or something by Rob Bell, Brian McLaren or Joel Osteen.

3) Few (or none) of the church's leaders are warning the people mentioned in point #2.

4) There is a large contingent obsessed with End Times paranoias vis a vis 'what will become of me and my stuff?' rather than gleeful anticipation that their redemption draws nigh.

5. There are professional networking meetings held at the church.

These might seem like a shallow way of assessing things, but they're a pretty accurate indication to me that I won't fit in there. You might think they are narrow-minded, but if you had a peanut allergy, you probably wouldn't keep an open mind toward a restaurant called the Peanut Gallery, either.

Frank Turk said...

I also wanted to point out, Phil, that the girls in your runners graphic there have a lot less clothing on than the purple-suited medusa I used to post occationally for which I took a TON of flack for both here and at my blog.

THAT graphic -- which was a CARTOON for pete's sake -- caused the end of the world as we know it. The runners in this post? Not a peep.

I'm not sayin' I was right or you are wrong -- I'm just sayin'.

Sir Aaron said...

Can we get the booklet on Amazon?

Chad V. said...

strat

So you mean if the congregation is doing exactly what Paul warned Timothy about in 2 TIm 3?

I'd call that an excellent litmus test.

Stefan said...

Funny that "Evangelicalism" should be all about the Evangel, but in most cases, is anything but.

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...." (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

mike said...

If I might presume to suggest;
1st order = EVERYTHING God said
2nd order= the stuff we want
3rd order = coffee and donut provider, color of carpet etc

Chris Cookston said...

But aren't we all just supposed to hold hands and do ministry together, regardless of doctrine? (a common attitude, not mine)

I'm so tired of this, I minister in a small town where relationships are more important than the truth, to many.

Is it really important to try to have fellowship with other community pastors even though they represent a wide array of error?

Just venting a little, but what do you think?

TomTex said...

Evangelism in recent years is based on Christians approaching the unsaved and asking "Do you know where you'll go when you die?" I believe we've got backwards. The unsaved should be approaching Christians asking "How can I be like you?" My daughter and I have created a t-shirt at www.DoUCMe.org to cause the unsaved to approach Christians wearing the shirt. Let us know what you think at by e-mailing doucme2009@live.com .

Stan McCullars said...

TomTex,

We have it backwards after 2,000 years?

No, sir. YOU have it backwards.

In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said Go and make

NOT

Sit and wait.

Let us obey the commands of Jesus.

Chad V. said...

Tomtex
Since you asked for opinion about your t-shirt... It's blasphemy. The second commandment forbids images of God. God cannot be worshipped or known by images but by the proclamation of his person and work, his righteousness, holiness and justice and mercy. If you really desire to make Christ known to the lost then you need to learn to proclaim these things with boldness.

Luke 24:46-47

Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Mike Riccardi said...

The unsaved should be approaching Christians asking "How can I be like you?"

They will never do that, because...

The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and the world through its wisdom did not come to know God.

Because of this, God was
well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe, not through T-shirts and attractional methods.

The unsaved may even ask for those things -- t-shirts, concerts, bars, money, cars. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we don't give those things. We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block and foolishness to the world.

Because a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

When you offer people what they already want as natural people, you don't require them to be born again to receive what you're offering. But if you're offering forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Christ alone, the natural man will not receive that; he must be born again.

Stick to the foolish Gospel and its foolish method: preaching.

donsands said...

Tom Tex,

I don't have a problem with your T-shirt, but it's not for me.

I have done many things like this, especially as a new Christian. I did a lot of tract giving it lots of ways. I wore the T-shirts, bumper stickers, and I even put a cross up in my front yard.

And I believe my heart was right, but it was immature to think these things would help bring a dead sinner to Christ.

Praying for sinners, and sharing the gospel, which is the truth and which is the love of God is how dead rebels come to repent and faith.

The Gospel is the power, which God uses to save His lost sheep.

Apeleutheros said...

An excellent post Phil.

"Whether a person is an evangelical is to be settled by reference to how he stands with respect to six points."

So based on the post modern day perspective of "Evangelicalism" held by professing believers, I cannot help but wonder how these six points could possibly be defined.

Apeleutheros said...
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Apeleutheros said...
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Apeleutheros said...

(sorry for the previous two deletes... I had to make revisions and fix some typos)

"So based on the post modern day perspective of 'Evangelicalism'... I cannot help but wonder how these six points could possibly be defined."

Here they are. May they be written on tablets of recycled paper until the day of biodegration:

1. We believe all scripture is narrative, irrelative and socially acceptable for the building up of tolerance, ambiguity, and self esteem, that the "person" of God may be well equiped and culturally relevant to accomidate the carnal desires of all of humanity.

2. We believe there is one God, eternally existent in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit... but he may present himself to those who are lost in various forms: such as a genderless person, various animal, or plants, and maybe even creeping things.

3. We believe in the divine ability of man made in the image of God to save himself through human effort if he first says the sinner's prayer.

4. We believe men are saved by having faith in themselves given to them by Jesus, who, because he's our best buddy operates in conjunction with the regenerating work of christian counselling and humanistic idealogy.

5.We believe in the impersonal return to earth by Jesus who works together with our human nature in those who believe in their own redeemed self-concept and that His “Coming Again” is just stepping into a new reality of our own divinity and living in way way that is in accordanance with who or what we perceive that to be.

6. We believe in the symbolic resurrection of the dead; the believer to a deeper narrative relationship with God and the unbeliever to a lesser form of universal reconciliation ( i.e. if he's a good person. If not then they dissapear into nothingness, because it's just cruel to send someone to an eternity in hell)

DFR said...

The idea that 21st C Evangelicals don't care about doctrine is unfair. Why, they even have a catechism for the new decade, and it has five points, not six...

Q1. Who am I?
A. I am God's greatest creation. I can praise Him.

Q2. Does God care about me?
A. God cares about me. I can trust Him no matter what.

Q3. What is God's plan for me?
A. God has a plan for me. I can have a relationship with Jesus.

Q4. How can I be like Jesus?
A. I can be like Jesus. I can follow His example.

Q5. What do I do now?
A. I know what to do. I can live in ways that honor God.

source: www.lifeway.com/vbs2010/saddle_content.html

Don't y'all think this is a great summary of the doctrines of creation, the character of God, repentance and faith, sanctification, and Gospel obedience?

Or maybe not?

Whither evangelicalism indeed. Any SoBapts want to talk about elephants in living rooms?

And does anybody have anything better for next summer?

Mike Riccardi said...

DFR, I thought you were kidding.

That is just terrible.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

You said "...the singular characteristic that stands out most among contemporary evangelicals is their distaste for drawing any clear lines between truth and error. They don't like to handle doctrine in a polemical fashion."


I have been a member of my church for about 32 years and I have seen the shift. As for its orthodoxy and ortho praxy, it is not now, the church I joined then.

I asked my pastor a few months ago, "Does anybody really care about doctrine anymore?"

He didn't directly answer but his countenance and body language gave me the answer I needed. I took that as a NO.

Then he told me how, years ago, whenever he would call on new visitors to his churches, most people would ask him, "tell me what does your church believe?" His point was that most conversations quickly moved to questions about doctrine. Today, most people want to know what programs you have for me and my family.

Stan McCullars said...

I'm glad R.C. Sproul is my pastor.

donsands said...

"I'm glad R.C. Sproul is my pastor."

I wish I lived in Lake Mary, FL.

RC is the best of the best.

Gilbert said...

Strategem, you wrote:

"1) They are involved to a significant degree with Habitat for Humanity, or think its important that they serve Fair Trade coffee.

2) A large number of people are reading The Shack or something by Rob Bell, Brian McLaren or Joel Osteen.

3) Few (or none) of the church's leaders are warning the people mentioned in point #2.

4) There is a large contingent obsessed with End Times paranoias vis a vis 'what will become of me and my stuff?' rather than gleeful anticipation that their redemption draws nigh.

5. There are professional networking meetings held at the church.

These might seem like a shallow way of assessing things, but they're a pretty accurate indication to me that I won't fit in there."

Actually, I was surprised you mentioned #1. Our church is active in it locally (ours just helped last weekend build a house), and I'm fully aware that Mr. Carter will have a LOT to answer for when he gets to heaven. Even while I think he is flawed, building homes for the poor and sharing the Gospel with them in the process with a Godly attitude changes the heart of the donor, unless he is completely blind. They may not get saved every time, and of course, only the Gospel and the power that comes with it can save. But when they see people acting out the Gospel in their lives, the burden is on them as to why they would want to reject Christ after they see the truth in plain action before them. (It also helps that many in our church know how to build and work on houses, and do so with great God-given skill.)

Beyond that, I agree 100% with all that's on your list.

Gilbert said...
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Gilbert said...

Strategem: for clarification, I also meant to say that the first part of #1 was the only thing I question. The "Fair Trade Coffee" thing does nothing spiritually, of course.

Brian Auten said...

Re: Frank Turk's earlier question regarding "Name the Moderates" and Re: Truth Unites/Divides point about the "organic connectness" of 1st and 2nd order issues.

Here's part of my who's who list when it comes to theological moderates -- which I'm defining here as folks who hold to orthodox doctrine (sometimes even Reformed doctrine) who are often (a) pummeled by their conservative theological flank over 2nd order issues, and (b) taken to task by their liberal flank because they're still holding up the flag for orthodoxy:

1. Richard Mouw
2. Scot McKnight
3. Dan Kimball

I realize that I'm probably opening myself up to comments like "Well, if he thinks these folks are orthodox, I can't help him," but I'm willing to take the chance. The latter two I've picked because they've intentionally set out through their new "Origins Project" to distance themselves from folks like Pagitt, McLaren and Spencer Burke.

About "organic connectedness" -- I have indeed reflected on this quite a bit. I fear this may sound like a strawman, but bear with me. The organic connection between a 1st and 2nd order doctrine isn't of the same type as, say, additive or communicative properties in algebra or a geometric proof. One makes organic connections between 1st and 2nd level theological issues by employing reasoned argument informed/backed up by textual evidence + tradition + historical analysis -- meaning that while not all interpretations are valid, there will be legitimate, biblical space for acceptance of difference on 2nd order issues.

Best,

Brian Auten

newepistles said...

I frankly don't care if neo-evangelicalism dies as a movement. Frankly, I hope it does—the sooner, the better.

Phil, I don't think the evangelical movement will just die or fade away. It will probably morphe into something else like what happened to Wesleyan movement into the United Methodist Church.

I think evangelicalism is much bigger than a movement and bigger and stronger that what we give credit for. It's very diverse movement of many diverse denominations. That's why it just cannot disappear like what iMonk would like to suggest.

Frank Turk said...

Brian --

My apologies for being out of the country and sort of strapped for time this week. Your answer deserves a well-rounded answer.

Here's my brief answer, rough edges and all:

All three of these guys are probably broadly orthodox personally. Their form of "moderate" theology tends to seek peace with those who are "immoderate" in one direction only, and I'll leave it to a broader answer later to line out what that means -- but I think it is self-evident what I mean by that.

stratagem said...

Gilbert
As far as Habitat is concerned, there is nothing wrong with an individual being involved in that organization. When the church is involved in it, it invariably signals a church that has begun to confuse left-wing politics with the Gospel (or Kingdom, as they like to say). That's why I included it. You may find a stray church here and there where my litmus test doesn't apply, but if something's 99% accurate, that's close enough for a pragmatist like me.